The 5 best spas in the world for 2018

These are the Condé Nast Traveller Spa Awards 2018 winners: the top level retreats and medi-clinics, the most-results-driven health centres and the slickest spas. Here is this year's run of the best of the best:

Best for targeted healing


Viva Mayr Altaussee, Austria

The poster boy for the Mayr method is no longer Dr FX Mayr, its bearded founding father, who first observed the surprising health of the people drinking the salt-rich thermal waters in Karlsbad. Fast-forward 100 years and the extraordinarily youthful Dr Sepp Fegerl is the big draw at this clinic on the shore of Lake Altaussee. The principles of the cure – taking Glauber’s Salts, eating a restricted diet, participating in detox-encouraging therapies – are aimed at repairing the delicate lining of the intestine and returning the body to an alkaline state. In the extreme, this can cure type-2 diabetes; as well as reducing high blood pressure in just seven days. And, of course, weight loss – the reason so many sign up for it – is a happy by-product. A doctor’s appointment on arrival will set out the rest of the bespoke programme, including kinesiology food testing to pinpoint allergies and intolerances before your diet is prepared... 
Read the full review in the 2018 Spa Guide, out now

L'Albereta, Italy

If Palace Merano is the grande dame of detoxing, then L’Albereta is its gentler cousin. Fans of Henri Chenot and his biontology method (a combination of Chinese medicine and nutrigenetic testing) will sink happily into this vine-clad villa in Lombardy to revel in the cocooning comfort. While the spa is run by Chenot and offers his incredible lymphatic-draining massage, mud wraps and meridian-boosting jet baths – all of which target sluggish organs and ignite flagging mojo – this is not a punitive medi-clinic. It’s like staying in a chic tree house, high up in towering pines. There are endless terraces with pots of lavender and gorgeous views down to Lake Iseo. You can follow the Chenot detox diet – mouse-like portions of exquisite alkaline food – in a separate dining room, but military levels of discipline are needed to avoid swerving dangerously off-piste… Read the full review in the 2018 Spa Guide, out now

Most progressive clinic


Clinique la Prairie, Switzerland

In the glass-walled spa café, a glamorous elderly woman – multiple rings, beautifully made-up – is reminiscing about the good old days at CLP. ‘Everyone used to come just for the famous rejuvenation treatment. The clinic gave it by injection then. A doctor would administer it all while we played bridge. It was marvellous. You didn’t even have to put your cards down!’ she says. Things here have changed. A lot. As might be expected, given the clinic has been going since 1931. That was when Professor Paul Niehans devised his famous anti-ageing Revitalisation cell therapy, based on the regenerative capabilities of foetal lamb-liver extracts. The clinic still offers this dauntingly expensive treatment – about £18,000 on top of the one-week package – and keeps a flock of black sheep for the purpose.Half of Hollywood, heads of state and the worried wealthy have rolled up over the decades for this, and thanks to the huge profits the process has generated, La Prairie has become vastly more comprehensive… Read the full review in the 2018 Spa Guide, out now

Best clean-eating fix


Fusion Maia, Vietnam

This place defies category. It’s not a boutique hotel, although it feels intimate and embodies a sense of peacefulness. There are day beds on the beach, life revolves around the infinity pool and the young, friendly staff feel like family. It’s not a destination spa either, however, incredibly, two spa treatments daily are included in the room rate. Yet it is a magnet for people wanting a bit of both. It’s undeniably funky, with minimalist decor; rooms are white with a wisp of blush pink, but they are neither clinical nor achingly trendy. Menopausal mid-lifers are as much at home as toned twenty-somethings. There’s a resident DJ every afternoon but he also happens to be an energy therapist. Even the general manager is a healer. And while alcohol and burgers are on the menu, this is a gastronomic haven at the vanguard of clean eating. You can request vegan, raw food or a juice cleanse, while Fresh, the café by the pool, serves vibrantly pretty dishes, as if the menu were devised by Vietnam’s answer to the Helmsley sisters... Read the full review in the 2018 Spa Guide, out now

Best family getaway


Schloss Elmau, Germany

At this end of the Elmau valley, where the road peters out, mountain peaks dominate the horizon and the air is nose-tinglingly bright – civilisation feels far away. Lush green pastures are dotted with shepherds’ huts and edged by dark thickets of pine. It’s a setting so pristine and cut off from the world that they held the G7 summit here, the entire basin cordoned off with tanksso that Obama, Merkel, Cameron could gather in what is more regularly the yoga room to chew over world policy. Hopefully they managed to dip into one of the four spas, because they are truly excellent. This is not just somewhere to slink to for a soothing massage or cleansing facial (though they are available, of course). The emphasis is on physical healing at a deeper level. The wellbeing programme was initially set up on the basis of the five senses, the most important being touch. But intuitive and motivated spa director Dr Imke Konig introduced traditional Chinese medicine 18 months ago as a response to not being able to treat guests’ ailments with touch alone… Read the full review in the 2018 Spa Guide, out now


Source: CN Traveller